Top CX Trends In APAC & Challenges For CX In 2022

Top CX Trends In APAC - Image of the Bangkok Skyline.

Customer experience is something we talk about a lot at MAQE. 

That is because it is vital to get right. Your customer experience, both on and offline, keeps your customers happy. Good customer experience (CX) also keeps your customers coming back and helps you stand out from the crowd.

This week we are looking at customer experience trends specific to APAC, via a CX network report that details some of the trends and challenges APAC businesses face. We will also look at actions APAC companies can take to deal with these trends and challenges.

So let’s talk about CX…

CX Trends In APAC - UX professionals using post it notes.
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CX Trends In APAC – What The APAC Picture Looks Like

Although the coming global recession and slowdown will affect APAC, the fact remains that for digital businesses it is a part of the world where growth is still possible.

According to the World Economic Forum, Asian countries are poised to show the biggest growth in the “consumer class”  among the world’s 30 biggest markets. This consumer class is defined as a group of people who spend over $11 per day.

55% of this global consumer class lives in Asia and this consumer class is destined to grow. 76 million Indonesians are projected to join the consumer class by 2030. Other countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines could also see big growth.

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The Top CX Trends In APAC, According To Businesses

According to the respondents from CX Network’s survey of professionals in APAC, these are the top 3 CX trends that businesses are focusing on.

Digital Customer Experience

The top CX priority among the business community in APAC is the digital customer experience. While you might think that this is maybe a little bit non-specific, it actually implies more than you think.

The respondents in the CX Network survey could have picked digital customer experience as the biggest trend because of the unique circumstances in APAC. 

Brick and mortar retail is stronger in APAC than in other parts of the world. But it was seriously disrupted by the pandemic. This prompted APAC retailers to focus on their websites or apps as their primary channel while retail outlets were closed. A focus that was not as strong pre-COVID.

So an increased focus on the digital customer experience among APAC businesses is only natural. APAC companies are looking to integrate digital experiences into their retail spaces and create better overall digital experiences.

In other territories, physical retail has not been as strong for some time, so the focus on digital has been stronger for longer. Consumers in Asia have tended to like shopping offline but researching purchases online while they shop. A unique, engaging combined digital experience makes sense for retail brands in APAC, as they look to maintain in-store purchases and retain customers.

Customer Loyalty & Retention

Loyalty and retention is a prominent trend among APAC businesses in 2022 in CX Network’s survey. 17% of respondents picked it as one of their top 3 trends.

Customer retention and loyalty become even more important in tough economic times. So strong digital offerings that help customers save money in a way that still offers convenience will become very important to all retail brands over the next 18 months. 

However, this needs to be done by putting empathy at the heart of the experience. This can be done through various means, some of which are only tangentially related to the “customer experience” by itself but could be integrated into it.

In the CX Network survey a huge majority of respondents seem to agree that “buying decisions are influenced by a company’s ethics”.

Companies can demonstrate ethics to customers in several ways. One is by demonstrating care for the community in which it is based. Another is offering pragmatic help to customers in times of crisis. For an eCommerce brand in APAC both of these things could be integrated, for example, into the purchase funnel by adding charity contribution functions to the checkout. You could also waive delivery fees to help the customer’s own circumstances, by charging them less.

Personalization can also help here. You can optize digital touchpoints to be more personalized and ensure frontline support is available to customers where it is needed.

AI & Chatbots

AI and chatbots are very much front of mind for APAC CX professionals, with 13% of them labeling them as a top CX trend in APAC.

It is no surprise chatbots are so high on the list in APAC. The linguistic capabilities of chatbots make even more sense in APAC than almost anywhere else. APAC has a very diverse range of languages and dialects across the region. So a good chatbot would help a business to scale up automated region wide customer support very quickly.

AI and machine learning will also help APAC companies to make sense of the large amount of data they can acquire. A business that can adequately gather data from physical and online touchpoints, structure it and then glean insights from it is a business that can adapt to user behavior changes very quickly.

AI and chatbots also make sense in the increasing trend for automated self-service, especially in the B2B space. A Forrester report states that APAC customers have increasingly adopted self-service and automated support in their CX, with preferences for automated chatbot services in purchase journeys rising from 24 to 26% across all of APAC.

But businesses should also be cautious. The same report from Forrester also highlights that APAC customers still want rapid access to human support touchpoints in their purchase journey when they need it.

In fact companies in APAC should be thinking about where human support should be placed in an automated purchase journey. They should not be thinking a chatbot can replace humans. 

A hybrid CX journey that uses solid chatbot technology and humans is the future.

CX professionals using post it notes.
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CX Trends In APAC – Top Challenges CX Teams Face In The Region

The respondents to CX Network’s survey of UX practitioners stated that these 3 challenges are at the top of the list of challenges they currently face in APAC.

Linking CX Initiatives To ROI (Return On Investment)

21% of UX practitioners in APAC state that proving ROI on customer experience investments is their number one challenge. This is down from 38% in CX Network’s previous report on CX in APAC in 2021.

While it is a big drop from 38% to 21%, it shows that proving ROI is still front of mind for many CX professionals in APAC.

It is here that eliminating silos within a business could help CX practitioners to communicate to senior leadership more effectively. 

By working with an aligned team that, for example, could contain digital marketing and communications professionals, CX practitioners may have more access to data that justifies further investment into a customer experience budget. Digital marketing professionals can illustrate the data, comms professionals can write a business narrative for leadership. Collaboration here will help to improve CX across the board.

While it may be true to say “customer experience should be the whole company”, the reality often does not match this ideal. So CX practitioners could look to integrate with other teams to help their efforts.

Competing Priorities

Competing priorities, at 20%, was the next biggest concern among respondents. It is also directly tied to the battle CX professionals think they face in linking CX initiatives to ROI.

Here is where CX practitioners can use data to back up their experiments. Good customer experience aids customer retention, increases conversion rates and leads to lower cart abandonment rates on websites.

Building A Customer First Culture

A customer first (or customer centric) culture increases customer retention rates, so it is no surprise that this is an issue for APAC CX professionals. 19% of them, according to CX Network, reported that this is a big challenge in 2022. 

But this is not a battle that CX professionals can wage alone. Although they can be evangelists for culture-wide change, they can only be the candle that sparks a wider flame. It needs more buy-in from leadership teams to really move an organization towards being customer centric.

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CX Actions You Can Start To Take

Here are some actions that APAC businesses can take to overcome CX challenges and align to CX trends in 2022.

  • Properly integrate physical retail and digital to create true omnichannel customer experiences
  • Demonstrate care for the community in which you are based, APAC customer care about ethics
  • Offer pragmatic help to customers in difficult times
  • Optimize digital touchpoints to be using personalization 
  • Ensure human, frontline support is available to customers where it is needed
  • Offer self-service options to customers
  • Think about where human support is needed in an automated purchase journey
  • Eliminate silos in your organization, align teams around customer experience
  • This can start a move to becoming a more customer centric organization

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